Putin ups arms sales to Assad as rebels fracture

posted at 2:01 pm on January 17, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Still wondering who won the standoff last summer over “red lines” in Syria? Wonder no longer. Vladimir Putin got Bashar al-Assad a new lease on life a few months ago when he pushed back against Western demands for intervention after chemical-weapons use got so blatant that it could no longer be ignored. Now Russia is trying to make sure Assad succeeds as fast as needed to completely preclude any intervention at all:

In recent weeks Russia has stepped up supplies of military gear to Syria, including armored vehicles, drones and guided bombs, boosting President Bashar al-Assad just as rebel infighting has weakened the insurgency against him, sources with knowledge of the deliveries say.

Moscow, which is trying to raise its diplomatic and economic influence in the Middle East, has been a major provider of conventional weapons to Syria, giving Assad crucial support during the three-year civil war and blocking wider Western attempts to punish him with sanctions for the use of force against civilians.

The new Russian supplies come at a critically fluid stage of the conflict, with peace talks scheduled for next week in Switzerland, the factious opposition losing ground, and Western support for the rebellion growing increasingly wary of the role played by foreign militants. Syria has even said some countries formally opposed to Assad have begun discussing security cooperation with his government.

Several sources told Reuters that Assad’s forces had since December received deliveries of weaponry and other military supplies, including unmanned spy drones known as UAVs, which have been arranged by Russia either directly or via proxies.

This isn’t just geopolitics to Putin, although he has to take a great deal of satisfaction in slapping back the US and UK. NATO, led by Barack Obama, intervened disastrously in Libya and the US ended up paying a big price for it in Benghazi (and the French in Mali, for that matter), but that didn’t stop Obama and other American politicians from trying the same strategy again to push Assad out. Putin refused to go along, and got fortunate when the political winds changed for Obama and David Cameron. He’s obviously not interested in leaving another opening for the West to change their minds.

The other motive for Putin here is strictly mercantile. Russia wants the arms sales, and they’re willing to spread the love a little here:

“Equipment has been moving into Syria, and Russia is either bringing it in themselves or sourcing supplies from Black Sea areas like Bulgaria, Romania or Ukraine, where there is surplus stock floating around,” the source said. “Suppliers in that region cannot afford to upset the Russians.”

Arms trackers say Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine all have stockpiles of Russian-styled light arms that were produced in the countries dating back to the Soviet era, when factories were set up with help from Moscow.

Putin also wants to protect other economic interests in Syria:

The arms industry source said: “Stuff is definitely coming into Syria, and Russia realizes they have to keep Assad in power if they want to keep a hold of what they have there, especially with oil and gas reserves up for grabs.”

Russian oil and gas company Soyuzneftegas signed a $90 million deal with Syria’s oil ministry in December for oil exploration and production in a 2,190 square kilometers (845 square miles) bloc of Mediterranean waters off the Syrian coast between Tartous and Banias.

The resurgence of Assad’s regime bolsters Russian credibility, even as the civil war within the rebels discredits the West. That was in part the point of Sir Hew Strachan in his comments about the incoherence of Obama’s military and foreign policies, especially in regard to Syria. Rest assured, Putin isn’t suffering from the same problem.

However, he’s not terribly adept at public relations, either. The media has focused a lot less today on these developments than on Putin’s comments “welcoming” gays and lesbians to Russia for the Sochi Olympics … as long as they don’t talk about their orientation and “leave children in peace”:

“We have no ban on the nontraditional forms of sexual intercourse among people,” Putin said in remarks carried by the Interfax news service. “We have the ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia. I want to stress this: propaganda among minors. These are two absolutely different things: a ban on certain relations or the propaganda of such relations.”

Putin asserted that the idea of legalizing pedophilia has been discussed in some countries.

“There is nothing secret about it, look it up on the Internet and you’ll find it straightaway,” he said. “Parties have raised the issue with certain parliaments. So what, are we supposed to shuffle behind them like obedient dogs toward unknown consequences? We have our own traditions, our own culture, we treat all our partners with respect and ask for our traditions and our culture to be treated with respect as well.”

One more question: Why, a volunteer asked, do Russia’s Olympic uniforms contain the colors of the rainbow, the rainbow being a symbol of gay rights?

Don’t ask him, the president said. “I didn’t design the uniform.”

This, of course, is absurd and worthy of scorn — but it’s Putin’s moves in the Middle East that are the real threat. Too bad few (other than Reuters) seem to be paying much attention.

Addendum: By the way, I’d advise against taking Putin’s advice about doing that kind of search on the Internet.


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Putin is playing 0bama for the fool he is…

OmahaConservative on January 17, 2014 at 2:03 PM

One might say Russia is our #1 geopolitical foe…

SAZMD on January 17, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Plus, gays welcome in Sochi … as long as they shut up.

Note to our gays, here: If you go to Sochi, don’t go around being proud of it.

Lanceman on January 17, 2014 at 2:08 PM

RESET!

WryTrvllr on January 17, 2014 at 2:09 PM

“We have no ban on the nontraditional forms of sexual intercourse among people,” Putin said in remarks carried by the Interfax news service.

‘Non traditional’ is putting it mildly. From what I saw of the criticism Phil Robertson received, though, maybe if he had put it like that they wouldn’t have minded so much…

changer1701 on January 17, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Putin asserted that the idea of legalizing pedophilia has been discussed in some countries.

Can’t happen here, right?

Lanceman on January 17, 2014 at 2:11 PM

This, of course, is absurd and worthy of scorn

Addendum: By the way, I’d advise against taking Putin’s advice about doing that kind of search on the Internet.

I don’t get how these 2 statements jibe.

Rocks on January 17, 2014 at 2:12 PM

This, of course, is absurd and worthy of scorn

Hmm. His views sounded pretty darn reasonable. More reasonable than what I get from US politicians.

Buddahpundit on January 17, 2014 at 2:26 PM

This isn’t just geopolitics to Putin, although he has to take a great deal of satisfaction in slapping back the US and UK. NATO

Hussein is enjoying it too I’m sure,
he set up our Nation to fail and be slapped around, it is a personal satisfaction for him.

burrata on January 17, 2014 at 2:27 PM

So what’s the gesture of “gay solidarity” that the athletes will use when on the stand getting their medals?

Will they usurp the same one used by athletes in Berlin?

They do love co-opting the civil rights movement.

gwelf on January 17, 2014 at 2:31 PM

So what’s the gesture of “gay solidarity” that the athletes will use when on the stand getting their medals?

Will they usurp the same one used by athletes in Berlin?

They do love co-opting the civil rights movement.

gwelf on January 17, 2014 at 2:31 PM

You mean that sign for
” fisting” ???
;-)

burrata on January 17, 2014 at 2:33 PM

gwelf on January 17, 2014 at 2:31 PM

Rainbows lots and lots of Rainbows.

MontanaMmmm on January 17, 2014 at 2:41 PM

You know the world is screwed up when you cheer for the leader of Russia to stuff the American President……but here we are……

redguy on January 17, 2014 at 2:42 PM

On with Brother Phil on this one – why would you prefer a mans pooper
over the woman’s v???

redguy on January 17, 2014 at 2:44 PM

This is the smart move. It was always the smart move. It would have been a helluva lot smarter than inciting/encouraging/abetting Arab Spring.

Because, if you’re not going in whole hog for the long haul- and we ain’t, it really doesn’t matter how many bodies of “Death to America” types pile up; it’s always easier to deal with one murderous nutbag-in-charge- than several who want to be in charge.

And if you can’t stomach the bodies, tough sh**. Go water your daisies.

M240H on January 17, 2014 at 2:45 PM

I’m missing the trolls :)

burrata on January 17, 2014 at 2:51 PM

We have our own traditions, our own culture, we treat all our partners with respect and ask for our traditions and our culture to be treated with respect as well.

Yeah, this is obviously completely ridiculous and totally objectionable.

HB3 on January 17, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Rainbows lots and lots of Rainbows.

MontanaMmmm on January 17, 2014 at 2:41 PM

But that is the Russian uniform design and Americans can’t be seen as celebrating the Russian opposi…. Hey, wait, I wonder if Putin appropriated the rainbow for just this reason!?

Buddahpundit on January 17, 2014 at 2:52 PM

The media has focused a lot less today on these developments than on Putin’s comments “welcoming” gays and lesbians to Russia for the Sochi Olympics … as long as they don’t talk about their orientation and “leave children in peace”:

I wonder if Hollywood has changed their “tune” on Putin?

I found my thrill……

MontanaMmmm on January 17, 2014 at 2:54 PM

America has not been perceived as weak and vacillating like this since the days of Jimmy Carter.

myiq2xu on January 17, 2014 at 2:55 PM

However, he’s not terribly adept at public relations, either. The media has focused a lot less today on these developments than on Putin’s comments “welcoming” gays and lesbians to Russia for the Sochi Olympics …

That says far more about the sad state of our media than it does about Putin.

questionmark on January 17, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Between the Shites and the Sunni, the Sunni are the most advanced in their agenda and dangerous to humanity. America and much of the west are client states of Sunni Islam. I’m gonna have to back Russia on this one. Sorry about your Al Q allies.

BL@KBIRD on January 17, 2014 at 3:01 PM

I guess I missed Ed’s comments on persecution of Nigerian gays.

Christien on January 17, 2014 at 3:02 PM

This, of course, is absurd and worthy of scorn —

Addendum: By the way, I’d advise against taking Putin’s advice about doing that kind of search on the Internet.

Your addendum is why what Putin says is not absurd and worthy of scorn.

kcewa on January 17, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Will they usurp the same one used by athletes in Berlin?

They do love co-opting the civil rights movement.

gwelf on January 17, 2014 at 2:31 PM

You mean Mexico City? Yes, they will.

kcewa on January 17, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Sad day when a fascist dictator in Russia has more morals than one of the two major American political parties. Maybe both, for that matter.

And yes, there is a rapidly growing movement to mainstream pedophilia. Just marching in through the door their homosexual brothers are trying to kick open.

Vanceone on January 17, 2014 at 3:39 PM

You mean Mexico City? Yes, they will.

kcewa on January 17, 2014 at 3:27 PM

The commie salute in the ex-Soviet Union as a protest against a former KGB guy? Or as burrata alluded to, the international hand gesture for fisting? No, they can’t use that in their propaganda, and they can’t use the rainbow because Russia appropriated it as their design for these Olympics.

The homosexual propaganda community is taking on the agitprop inventors ( and those who have seen it for a hundred years ). They are two steps ahead of you.

Buddahpundit on January 17, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Jesse Owens did it right. Shut up and don’t disrespect by making some selfish political statement. Simply be there and WIN.

Christien on January 17, 2014 at 3:48 PM

The homosexual propaganda community is taking on the agitprop inventors ( and those who have seen it for a hundred years ). They are two steps ahead of you.

Buddahpundit on January 17, 2014 at 3:42 PM

So what are they going to do?

kcewa on January 17, 2014 at 3:57 PM

Looking back over this whole Syrian circus, it seems that if you are honest with yourself, the Assad family enterprise kept Syria a calm and relatively peaceful Islamic paradise where the really nasty islamic radical elements hardly showed their faces. Oh, of course there was the occasional sabre rattling with the Izzies and that kind of prattle, but the family enterprise kept things in bounds and hardly anyone worried about the Syrians doing anything exceptionally stupid.

Our illustrious and still bogus leader, Obama, has once again stirred this pot to the point where Syria is definitely going to hell in a now standard way. First Obama puffs out his chicken chest and meddles, then the established ruling families get in fights with al-Queda. Obama encourages more of this until al-Queda definitely starts getting the upper hand – then Obama pulls out all pretense at supporting anyone who looks like a good guy compared to a-Queda, and al-Queda starts killing anyone who objects in the name of their equally illustrious and equally phony Allah, the Moon god, and chalking up and starting up a new Islamic paradise dedicated to re-establishing the old order of basically non-interesting and primitive gods.

There you have the fundamental Obama model of the world. He, of course is king, or emperor, and everyone else gets to waste their time bowing down 6 or8 times a day to a phony god -or faces losing their heads.

Like Mohammed, Obama has had this god complex for almost forever. He figures Christiandom is too much work, but the Islamic world is ripe for a takeover.

dockywocky on January 17, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Obama is Putin’s little be-yotch, and the whole world knows it.

Smart Diplomacy™: “From Snappy Slogan To Failed Policy – In Only Five Years!” And they said Obama was inexperienced . . .

[the scene fades to the Oval Office, where a frustrated Man of Colour pounds furiously on the Resolute Desk]:

RESET! RESET! RESET! RESET!
RESET! RESET!RESET! RESET!

RESET! RESET!RESET! RESET!

“(This #%?%! button isn’t working – Valerie? Valerie! HELP!!!)”

[fade to black]

Adjoran on January 17, 2014 at 4:22 PM

Thats a good idea.

If your gay – STFU – about it.

Nobody cares!

TX-96 on January 17, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Didn’t older sect Christians have it better under Assad than before the unrest, which they didn’t start, and Obama drew his ‘red line?’

(I’m not being snarky or sarcastic… Do some smarter than me Hotarians have a comment?)

marybel on January 17, 2014 at 5:09 PM

marybel on January 17, 2014 at 5:09 PM

Yes, as did Copts under Mubarak.

Christien on January 17, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Note to our gays, here: If you go to Sochi, don’t go around being proud of it.

Lanceman on January 17, 2014 at 2:08 PM

…I think…they should hold a parade!

KOOLAID2 on January 17, 2014 at 10:10 PM

However, he’s not terribly adept at public relations, either. The media has focused a lot less today on these developments than on Putin’s comments “welcoming” gays and lesbians to Russia for the Sochi Olympics … as long as they don’t talk about their orientation and “leave children in peace”:

Ever consider that Putin said this deliberately, knowing that our leftists and their media lackeys would go baying away after this latest squirrel, allowing him to slip the arming of Assad in under the radar?

Gator Country on January 17, 2014 at 10:44 PM